Three officials suspended; SMAM contract terminated

In a drastic damage-control exercise following the ‘corruption charges', the Executive Board (EB) of the Commonwealth Games Organising Committee (OC) on Thursday decided to suspend three of its officials and also terminate the contract with the Sports Marketing and Management (SMAM), the firm which was supposed to bring sponsors.

Mattoo replaces Khanna

It also decided to bring in A.K. Mattoo in place of Anil Khanna, who resigned from the post of OC Treasurer earlier in the day following media reports claiming conflict of interest between his position and his son's company.

Addressing a packed press conference here, OC Secretary-General Lalit Bhanot said the three-member committee formed to look into the allegations of financial irregularities submitted its report to OC Chairman Suresh Kalmadi and it was referred to the EB.

“Our legal consultant said SMAM's contract could be terminated in August with a three-day notice. Accordingly, the EB decided to terminate its contract with immediate effect on the basis of non-performance,” Bhanot said.

SMAM was supposed to deliver $122 million by June 30 through the sponsors which it failed to do.

The OC has decided to outsource the services of another company in the place of SMAM.

On the accusations of improper deals with AM Films and AM Cars and Vans during the London leg of the Queen's Baton Relay (QBR), the EB decided to suspend Joint Director General (Marketing and Revenue) T.S. Darbari and Deputy Director General Sanjay Mahindroo (who had already resigned from his post a few months back) as they were responsible for the delivery of the event.

The matter has been referred to the Enforcement Directorate for further enquiry.

“They will remain suspended till the enquiry is completed,” said Bhanot.

Besides, Joint Director General (Finance and Accounts) M. Jayachandran has also been suspended over the issue.

Bhanot admitted that the biggest problem in hiring the above mentioned companies was that the OC did not have any agreement with them.

However, he asserted that everything was all right with the OC.

“If one person makes a mistake, it does not mean that the whole system is wrong,” he said.

Kalmadi issue

Asked why OC Chairman Suresh Kalmadi was not owning up the moral responsibility and stepping down from his post, Bhanot said, “There are 1500 people working in the OC, it is difficult to know what one person is doing…It is difficult to own up responsibility for every person working in the OC.”

About the overlays issue, Bhanot said “world class overlays were needed for world class venues” and a separate budget was there for items which the OC was asked to procure. He said the OC had already written to the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC), the Engineers' India Ltd. (EIL) and Central Public Works Department (CPWD) to check the quality and quantity of the items obtained for overlays. The Cabinet Secretary was also requested to look into the matter, Bhanot said.

Bhanot said the biggest need of the hour was to deliver the Games successfully and urged the media to help the OC achieve it. “We are open to any enquiry by the Government of India,” he said.

Known as an honest sports administrator, the newly-appointed Treasurer Mattoo said the credibility of the Games had to be restored. Mattoo, who headed Hockey India for some time, had quit sports administration in January because of an unpleasant situation in hockey. He, however, maintained that he had come for his love of the Games and not to bail out Kalmadi.

“There is a need for the like-minded people to go ahead,” he said.

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